The vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is one of the molecules that can be defined as essential to life: it acts as an antioxidant and participates actively in the protection of our cells.
Usually in the list of active ingredients of supplements, but also of cosmetics, we read the words vitamin E. Yet in nature there are at least 8 molecules that have chemical structure and biological activity very similar. In any case, the alpha-tocopherol is the most widespread and also the most active of the whole group.
Vitamin E: Functions and Deficiencies
The first and most known role of vitamin E for the maintenance of our health is the antioxidant effect. In other words, it prevents the peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids caused by free radicals. Vitamin E prevents this harmful transformation of lipids, which causes deep changes in the cell membrane.
The importance of protection against fat peroxidation has long been known: in atherosclerotic plaques, peroxidized lipids in high concentration are always present. From this we understand the importance of blocking, at least in part, the activity of free radicals by following a diet rich in antioxidants.
Depletion of vitamin E also has negative effects on the resistance of the cell membrane of our red blood cells. In addition, diuresis is proven to stimulate and helps keep blood pressure under control.
Alpha-tocopherol is a molecule also appreciated by cosmetic manufacturers : it is a substance well absorbed by the skin and has proven to be an effective moisturizer, anti-inflammatory and soothing. Last but not least, it slows down the natural photoaging.
The recommended daily dose of this vitamin is 10 mg: in the bloodstream its concentration is regulated by the liver.
Food with Vitamin E and supplementation
Tocopherol is a molecule that dissolves well in fats, ie it is fat-soluble . It is also quite resistant to the heat of cooking but is sensitive to light. In any case all food processing processes reduce the content of vitamin E in foods. The main food sources are:
- Vegetable oils, such as wheat germ oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, soybeans and corn;
- Nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts;
- Whole grains;
- The eggs;
- Some vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, chickpeas, watercress, broccoli, tomato.
The effectiveness of vitamin E as an antioxidant may not be a benefit for everyone: the mechanism of action of tocopherol can interact with that of drugs with anticoagulant action. For this reason, it is always recommended to be followed by the attending physician or the specialist before changing the diet or taking supplements.